NHS boss urges more people to have cancer checks

New NHS boss Amanda Pritchard urges more people to have cancer checks amid fears tens of thousands are staying away to avoid being a ‘burden’ – as it’s set to launch ‘Help us, help you’ campaign

  • NHS ‘help us, help you’ campaign will launch nationwide on Monday across billboards, TV and social media
  • It will seek to raise awareness of key signs of lung, abdominal and urological cancers and encourage those affected to come forward
  • NHS poll found three in five people remain concerned about burdening service, which has been under huge strain due to Covid

The new head of the NHS has issued an impassioned appeal for the public to come forward for cancer checks amid fears thousands are still staying away to avoid being a ‘burden’.

Amanda Pritchard said the health service was ‘open and ready to treat people’ and warned Britons could be risking their lives if they did not consult GPs about symptoms.

A new NHS ‘help us, help you’ campaign will launch nationwide on Monday across billboards, TV and social media. 

It will seek to raise awareness of the key signs of lung, abdominal and urological cancers and encourage those affected to come forward.

The new head of the NHS has issued an impassioned appeal for the public to come forward for cancer checks amid fears thousands are still staying away to avoid being a ‘burden’. Amanda Pritchard (above) said the health service was ‘open and ready to treat people’ and warned Britons could be risking their lives if they did not consult GPs about symptoms

A new NHS ‘help us, help you’ campaign (above) will launch nationwide on Monday across billboards, TV and social media. It will seek to raise awareness of the key signs of lung, abdominal and urological cancers and encourage those affected to come forward

The adverts will feature people with a range of symptoms, such as prolonged stomach pains, a persistent cough, blood in the urine or a lump

Abdominal and urological cancers, which includes prostate and bowel, account for 44 per cent of all cancer diagnoses and 41 per cent of cancer deaths in England

An NHS poll found three in five people remain concerned about burdening the service, which has been under huge strain due to Covid. Half said they are more likely to delay seeking care now than before the pandemic.

The survey of 2,000 adults also revealed a shocking lack of awareness of cancer symptoms. Around a quarter of a million people were checked for cancer in June.

But Mrs Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, fears there are tens of thousands more who are not coming forward. Figures show there were 285,413 fewer hospital admissions for cancer between April 2020 and March this year than the year before.

Across the 12 months, cancer admissions fell by an average of 17 per cent.

But the number of people receiving treatment has been back at usual levels since March, NHS England said.

Mrs Pritchard said: ‘We are open and ready to treat people with potential cancer symptoms… It’s incredibly important that people recognise the common symptoms that can signal a cancer diagnosis – and it’s vital that they take action by making an appointment with their GP that could ultimately save their life.’


Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: ‘The NHS is open for us all and anyone who has concerns should come forward.’

The adverts will feature people with a range of symptoms, such as prolonged stomach pains, a persistent cough, blood in the urine or a lump.

Abdominal and urological cancers, which includes prostate and bowel, account for 44 per cent of all cancer diagnoses and 41 per cent of cancer deaths in England.

But the NHS survey reveals many people are unaware of common warning signs.

Three in five did not recognise discomfort in the abdominal area for three weeks or more as an indication of cancer. And two in five were not aware that a persistent cough for more than three weeks was a sign of potential lung cancer.

Doctors are concerned the symptom could be confused for Covid. Dame Cally Palmer, director of the NHS cancer programme, said: ‘If you are experiencing any worrying symptoms, please see your GP.’

Patients whose condition is diagnosed early typically have between five and ten times the chance of surviving compared with those found late.

Michelle Mitchell, of Cancer Research UK, said the campaign comes at ‘a crucial time’.

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